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April 30, 2008

Deloitte Canada strengthens grip on Toronto mid-market

Deloitte Canada strengthens grip on Toronto mid-market

Deloitte Canada has combined with Mintz & Partners in Toronto, creating a mid-market powerhouse in the area. The merger has surprised Collins Barrow, the association with which Mintz was previously affiliated, which plans to quickly fill the gap in its coverage.

Deloitte’s managing partner and chief executive, Alan MacGibbon, described the merged entity as the largest mid-market professional services provider in the Greater Toronto area. Mintz & Partners managing partner Bryan Tannenbaum explained: “The benefits for our people and our clients by combining our mid-market expertise with Deloitte’s dominance in the Canadian marketplace far outweigh the costs of continuing to bang heads with Deloitte in the mid-market.”

Mintz & Partners offers public and private company assurance services, tax planning and compliance, financial advisory services and strategic advice. The firm focuses on public companies, real estate and property management, manufacturing, retail and distribution, sports and entertainment, non-profit, and emerging markets such as China and South Asia. The combination adds 18 partners and 130 staff members to Deloitte’s work force, as well as annual revenues of about C$25 million ($25 million).

Lionel Goldman, chair of Collins Barrow, said the merger caught him “somewhat off guard”. However, he added: “It should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Collins Barrow is an organisation with roots tracing back over 70 years. Over that history, there have been comings and goings of significance, just like the merger of our [former] Toronto member firm with Deloitte.”

It was Deloitte that proposed the combination. MacGibbon explained: “Deloitte has always served the mid-market but gave this important market segment more focus, strategically, in 2005. [We] formed [the] private company services (PCS) to help us deliver the full services of our firm to private companies. Part of our strategy was to build our PCS in Toronto and we very quickly identified Mintz & Partners as an ideal strategic alliance.”

With more than 60 years in business, Mintz has long been a proudly independent firm but does not view the merger as a switch to the other side. According to Tannenbaum: “We’re creating a new side altogether – a stand-alone business unit, PCS, within the larger Deloitte group.

“Also, Deloitte is an exceptional organisation. Like Mintz & Partners, Deloitte has also been recognised as one of the [Canadian Business magazine] 50 Best Companies to Work for in Canada and among the [Globe and Mail newspaper’s] 50 Best Workplaces in Canada. Our new combined practice will be a great place to work and the most respected workplace of its kind in Greater Toronto. We will continue to be a family – just a much bigger one.”

He noted that the characteristics Mintz sees in its most successful clients – “seizing opportunities, growth orientation and an ability to adapt to the changing environment” – apply to the new business as well. Tannenbaum added: “To meet the demands of our clients going forward, we need deeper and broader expertise, and more hands to do the work. We believe that our competitive positioning requires an enhanced, more robust business that is dedicated to serving private companies in Greater Toronto while continuing to serve mid-market entrepreneurial public companies.”

The new private company service division will remain at Mintz’s location in Toronto. Tannenbaum will be Greater Toronto PCS director of operations for financial advisory services and an office team leader.

Minimal effect Goldman said the merger will not have an operational impact on Collins Barrow: “Collins Barrow is a co-operative corporation and we operate to serve our member firms. This operating structure is unique to Collins Barrow in Canada and is one of our main competitive advantages.

“Having Mintz & Partners as our Toronto member firm has been a positive experience for the organisation. However, they did not share a unified branding approach with Collins Barrow. Going forward, a cohesive branding strategy will emerge that would not have been possible prior to their merger.”

In leaving Collins Barrow, Mintz has also defected from the Praxity Global Alliance, of which Collins Barrow is a participant. Praxity secretary general Paul Hancock said the alliance is seeking a replacement firm in Toronto. However, he added: “Through participating firms located in Vaughan, Waterloo and Elora, there is sufficient coverage in this region to meet our needs in the interim period.”

Gundi Jeffrey

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